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TV To Go: Watching Video on Your iPod

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Now that Maria Langer has Apple's latest version of the iPod (released October 2005), she's enjoying its video capabilities along with her music. With pocket-size TV shows, music videos, and podcasts readily at hand, will she be able to pay attention to anything else?

Way back when—perhaps a whole year ago?—I was an early adopter of Apple’s iPod Photo. (I was also an early adopter of the original 5GB iPod, which I still use on occasion.) The iPod Photo was the first iPod with a color screen. And although it was kind of silly to show off my photos on its tiny screen, I did it anyway. I even wrote an article about creating an iPod slideshow with music.

I got to thinking that although I liked my iPod Photo, I’d like it a lot better if it could also play QuickTime movies. The folks at Apple headquarters must have been reading my mind; in October 2005, Apple released a new iPod with video capabilities. Of course, if Apple was really reading my mind, the video features would have been a software upgrade for my iPod Photo rather than a hardware acquisition. I’ll have to project stronger thoughts next time.

Call me an early adopter (again) because I bought one of these new toys. (Does this prove that two iPods aren’t enough?) And now I’m using it to show off all kinds of video. Read on and you’ll learn some tricks to get the most out of your video iPod.

Oh, and although I’m a Mac person and all these screenshots show a Mac in action, everything here should also work on Windows.

Basic Settings

The first thing to do is to install the iPod software on your computer.

Your iPod came with a CD. Pop that into your disc drive and open its icon (see Figure 1). Then double-click the Install iPod Software icon to get the installer going. Follow the instructions that appear onscreen to install the iPod driver software, as well as the latest versions of iTunes and QuickTime, if you don’t already have them. When you’re finished, eject the disc and put it in a safe place in case you need to reinstall one day.

Figure 1

Figure 1 The iPod + iTunes CD includes an installer to put required software on your computer.

There’s a chance that you might not need to install anything. I was so excited to get my new iPod that I just plugged it in. My Mac found it right away and guided me through the setup process, and then just started copying songs and photos to it. Talk about plug and play! But it’s always better to do things by the book, so install the software first. The installer won’t install software that’s already on your computer, so you don’t have to worry about winding up with duplicate copies of programs.

Now connect your iPod. You’ll probably use the USB cable that came with it. If you have a Universal Dock, you can connect the USB cable to that and sit the iPod in the dock.

If you’ve never had your iPod connected to your computer, the iPod Setup Assistant will appear. Here’s what you’ll see. The first screen, shown in Figure 2, prompts you to enter a name for your iPod and indicate whether you want all songs and photos to be updated automatically when you connect your iPod to your computer. Set options as desired and click Next.

Figure 2

Figure 2 The first screen of the iPod Setup Assistant prompts you to name your iPod and set basic settings.

The next screen prompts you to register your iPod. Follow the prompts to register your iPod via an Internet connection. The hardest part of doing this is reading the serial number on the back of the iPod. Could they make that print any smaller?

When you’re finished, your iPod appears in the Source column of the iTunes main window. If you selected either of the automatic update options, it’ll be blinking and a message at the top of the iTunes window will tell you that your iPod is being updated (see Figure 3). This could take a while if you have a lot of music and/or photos, so you can do other things—like browse the iTunes Music Store’s video offerings—while you wait.

Figure 3

Figure 3 iTunes can even tell the color of your iPod. As you can see, I went for black this time.

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